Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Showing Work

In Show no work from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin states,

“Show us why the logic holds up. Tell us how this has happened before.”

Whenever I teach a math skill, I always want the students to show their work. This tells me that they aren’t just guessing an answer. I’ve heard this saying in several situations lately and it applies to this situation: Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and then. If you keep guessing at an answer, you might get the answer right some of the time and wrong some of the time without ever knowing why.

Many students find that having to show their work is tedious. They believe they know the answer and just want to write it down. Some students are in a hurry to finish the assignment and having to show their work takes longer. Some students don’t want to show their work because they really don’t understand the concept and aren’t sure how to show the work.

One way to help students with showing their work is to list the steps they need to follow in order to show their work. This list can be posted on the board or each student is given their own personal copy to follow. This will give them more confidence when they have to show their own work.

I think it is also important to explain to students why I want them to show their work. I think if they understand the reason why they should do something, the more willing they will do this even if they don’t want to do it.

Reasons for showing work:
  • I will know that you didn’t just use a calculator.
  • I will know that someone didn’t give you the answer.
  • You can show me that you know where to start in solving the problem.
  • You know the steps to follow in order to solve the problem.
  • You understand what operation you need to use in order to solve the problem.
  • If you got a wrong answer, I would know which step you used was the problem.
  • You will be able to see where you went wrong when we review the work you have given.
  • Once you are getting the right answer consistently while showing work, you will be allowed to stop showing your work.
Do you have students show their work? How do you get them to do this? Please share.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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